Fair Loittir, known in those days as ancient Venus (a Ropan goddess of fire and vengeance), raged with clouds of flame and acid and held no cities of folk. It was a hidden place, lurking beneath storms of hate and spite. Early settlers, who tried build their cloud cities in the habitable zone, burned up and fell into the cauldron below, and none could hear their screams save the dumb Controls, which had failed them. But still they came, for Venus was the twin of Terra, the harder sibling, the Elder Sister, the Furnace, the Morning and the Evening Star.
And then the people of Verteia came and saw that they could soothe this world.
There are those who call Verteia a company. And they are half right and they are half wrong. Vertaia emerged as a force, as a nation, as a faith, in the year 160 YS. Born of nothing more than the will and the words of one woman, Kimi Baba-lal Umma, and the thousands that flocked to her stories. She told stories of what might be. And these are the most powerful of all stories.
Kimi Baba was raised as an orphan from the hot lands of the Jicktan peninsula, learning from her robot tutors and passed around the collectives that came and went in her sun-and-rain drenched beach. She loved nothing more than swimming in the ocean, playing games of daring between the auto-yachts and diving to rap on the windows of the toy submarines. Her greatest sadness was the knowledge that she would never swim with the dolphins of the old days, for they had passed from memory, left only in visuals and films. Her favoured beach, the beach she trod upon every morning, come rain or sun, had once been banked with the corpses of the dolphins massacred by Allaina. And she had never forgotten.
And she had turned her eyes to the sky and vowed that she would make a better world, one where the evil of the Terrans could never tread.
And her eyes fell upon the Morning Star. And she dreamed.
It was common, in those days of increasing plenty, that not every person took a profession. Food and heat and shelter was abundant, for the robot helpers – drawing their power from Tolos’ gift – ensured that there was no need for want or unhappiness. Even orphans had their place in the Jicktan empire, and so folk fell to different means of passing the daylight and evening hours. Some fell into creating great works of art, of doing great works of charity, of devoting their life to learning the smallest atom of knowledge on a subject
So Kimi Baba fell to telling stories to the children that played and swam along her beach. She told of tales of ships that bore people across the seas, and of carriers that took people across the darkness of space. She told tales of the courage of the hardy settlers of Pul’Mars, who took their drills to that chill place and made cities of it, and the pioneers that had explored, and still explore, the outer rims of the Tolosphere. To the gas-mining platforms of Kurkum, the One-Eyed King, and the methane-rigs above Titan, and the lonely research outstations of the Grey Lord, the Sea God. And she became the most famous of the storytellers, and she loved her stories of the moons and planets of her sun, and she loved the children and their parents that came to hear her talk.
But still she walked upon her beach and looked up at the Morning Star, and up at the Evening Star, and it was the brightest star in her sky. And she vowed that she must go there.
So she left the beach of the Jicktan peninsula, and she travelled the world, to the cities of Nelaga, in the remnant capital of Ol-Bonda, and to the new jungle-realm of Bolzilia, and the stilt-camps of northern Ciber, and she learned all she could of that which she loved most of all, which was the secrets of tides and of sands, and she made close friends of two others: Magda Lelustich, a Ciberan of the tallest height, and Davi Oolamdat Dav, a young man who said he came from all of Terra. And none doubted him.
And Kimi Baba, Magda Lelustich and Davi Oolamdat Dav all travelled on the research darter, Geode 765, to the cloud-stations above Venus, in the company of a joint Jicktan and Bolzilian company of researchers. But when they arrived, Kimi Baba was desolate, for she saw the truth of what she had seen from the beach. For Venus was also desolate, like all the stories said she was. And Kimi Baba witnessed the hardness and the furnace. And all the stories she had told to the children on the beach seemed like fairy tales to her now.
And she returned to Terra in desolation, leaving her friends in the cloud-stations. And this time was called the First Doubt of Kimi Baba.
But still the stories burned in her and, though she wandered Terra, seeking the bluest ocean, seeking the palest sands, still her thoughts returned to the Morning Star. It was always there, taunting her. And her wandering feet took her back to the stilt-camps of northern Ciber, and here — in the depths of winter — she saw the first of the newly-calved bergs draft from the pole. Never having seen ice of such dimensions, Kimi Baba was astonished and paddled out to the berg. And she climbed upon it, having no sense of its dangers, and rode upon this ice for two days and two nights, setting up camp and staring at the Evening Star and weeping for her friends being so far away.
And she made a beacon of flame on that berg, in the hope that some on that far off planet might see it and return to her. But none came and she saw the puddle of water that she had created.
And she understood what she must do.
For the next five years, Kimi Baba did not sleep longer than five hours each night. She called back her friends from Venus and set out for them her dreams and her stories and the path to reach them. And she called their venture Vertaia. She spoke to them of the most wonderful beaches in the whole universe, and the greatest of waves, and the most turquoise of lagoons. And they learned these stories and travelled the continents, re-telling them. And those they told retold in turn and so the stories of Kimi Baba spread to every corner of Terra.
And she took the money from her followers and she built a vast structure in the skies above Terra. And she called this place Vertaia. And the venture, which is also called Vertaia, grew to its full greatness.
And one day, a thousand people travelled on landers and carriers and whatever vehicle they could find, to come to her new structure. And they were the children of the beaches of southern Jickta, where she had taught. And they had spent their life dreaming the same dreams as Kimi Baba, and had learned the ways of the galaxy, and the forces of tides, and the terraforming of Pul’Mars, and powers of great engines. And she saw what she had done and she was afraid. And this was the second doubt of Kimi Baba.
But still she told her stories and this time she told of what should be done. And her followers travelled across all free lands of Terra and told their stories, gathering more followers still, and gathering the people of politics and of money. And they give their credit willingly, so much that Kimi Baba quickly became the wealthiest person in the Tolosphere.
And then she called all her followers to her and they started to work and they started to do, no longer talk, for they wanted to realise these stories. And first they went to beaches of southern Jickta. And second they went to the stilt-camps of northern Ciber. And last they went to great waterfalls of the highlands of Bolzilia. And all where they went, they understood the secrets of the universe’s water.
And then they went to the ruined places of Luna, still smouldering from the Secret War, and they learned of carriers and landers. And they went to the corporations of Pul’Mars and they learned of the secrets of the great Towers of Oda Masso. And they went to mining platforms of the gas giants, and further still to the insanity of the research stations of the ice giants.
And the name of Vertaia was known throughout the Tolosphere.
And they camped for a full Terran year on the icy craters of the Old Man’s moon, Yaro’Jul, where they befriended the people who called it home, the stout folk, the cold ones, the Olattim. And Kimi Baba sat on that ice and recalled her two days and two nights on the berg in the northern seas of Terra. And she dreamed of beaches of the hotter climes. And she remembered the barren heat of Venus.
So it came to pass that that Kimi Baba saw what she had to do. And she told her followers. And the stories go that they paid the Olattim there with a handful of Terran credit-lines for use of their moon and the Olattim who called it home were grateful, for their mines were poor and no longer sustained them or their children.
So she divided her followers into three camps. And one camp went with Davi Oolamdat Dav, inwards to the cloud stations of Venus. To prepare.
And Magda Lelustich and her followers were told to stay to divide the moon into parts. And they were told to work on that barren sphere of ice for full ten years.
But Kimi Baba returned to the structure of Vertaia, which flew above the tropical blue oceans of Terra. And there she oversaw the building of the largest engines that the Tolosphere has ever seen. Lugs the size of cities, light lances which could obliterate seas, grappling arms to lift islands from their rocky bed, robotic arrays of constructor mites which could darken the moon.
And all of Terra was in great alarm as what they saw in their sky. So Kimi Baba spent ten years travelling the courts of all the free lands in all of Terra, telling and retelling her story, until the terror at her works was quelled. But still delegations came from the cloud-city dwellers of Venus, for they had seen the works of Davi Oolamdat Dav and they were afraid for what may happen to their work. They saw vast shields being unfurled in the sky, and platforms capable of receiving a moon, and they knew that the Venus they had grown to love — barren though it was, dreadful its heat, hateful in its fury — was about to be destroyed forever. And the people of Terra listened to their pleas and the courts of Terra were wise and knew this to be the case. And they sent delegations of their own to the sky-factory of Vertaia and called upon Kimi Baba to cease in her work. And this was the Third Doubt of Kimi Baba.
But now a billion souls cried out in support of her dream. And they gave all their wealth and time to Vertaia. For they wanted to walk about the beaches she had foretold. Too many people now trod upon the soil of Terra, too many made filth in its waters, too many coughed their muck into its air. And the leaders in the courts of Terra knew this, and knew that their own troubles would be eased by listening to Kimi Baba’s words. And they were fearful of Vertaia’s power. So they ignored the delegations from Venus and gave Vertaia their blessing.
And so it came to pass that the vast engines which had grown in their sky-factory left their berths above Terra and set out on their long journey to the outer moons of the Tolosphere. And Kimi Baba rode on them, in their vanguard. So many years had passed now, that Kimi Baba was an old woman. But she still led her dream.
And she and Magda Lelustich were reunited and they embraced as long severed friends. And Kimi Baba looked upon the division of the moon and she was glad. And they used their lances, those which could boil oceans, on the ice moon of Yaro’Jul, which was called Rhea in the old tongue. And the lances cut to the core of that moon, and great volcanoes rent the surface and great spumes of dust were cast into the void, and there was such a light as has never been seen — and has not been seen again — in those dark outer circlets of the Tolosphere.
And some say the Old Man himself wept and slowed his movement, struck by the death of his daughter, and his tears created a new ring of ice tears which now encircles him.
But the work was completed, after five years of hard toil, and over that time, there was a caravan of ice bergs which flowed inwards, towards their destination, pulled by the fleet of lugs the size of cities. And Kimi Baba rode on the first of this bergs, and it took her two years to travel from the realms of the Old Man, into the light of Venus.
But then she arrived in the orbit above the Morning Star And she was greeted with great love by Davi Oolamdat Dav. And she left her berg and she cast it into the furnace and watched it burn up. And she watched the next burn up and the next and the next and the next, for fully five years.
And then she was joined by Magda Lelustich, who had rode upon the last piece of Yaro’Lul. All all three of those leaders of Vertaia that looked down upon the storm of the new world being born. And they saw that it was Venus no longer. And they were in awe of what they had done.
And they named that new world Loittir. And it was well-named, the land of leisure, for when the storms had subsided — after a decade — then Kimi Baba could see her story become real. And she, grey in hair and lined in face, descended to the surface and walked on the shores of her new land and looked up at the shields in the heavens and walked into the warm waters of her new home. And she held hands with her oldest friends, Magda Lelustich and Davi Oolamdat Dav, and they swam in the lagoons and marvelled at their works. For they had been formed in stories and in stories they will end.
And Verteia was the second of the planet builders.